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Report claims China will allow North Korean refugees to leave

Report claims China will allow North Korean refugees to leave

Beijing will soon allow more than 40 North Korean refugees sheltering at foreign missions in China to leave for South Korea and the United States, a report said yesterday.
China usually forcibly repatriates North Korean refugees, whom it regards as economic migrants, even though they often face harsh punishment on their return home.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency, quoting unnamed sources in Beijing, said the Chinese government had decided to allow them to leave to prevent the issue overshadowing the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
China has been in talks over the fate of 20 North Korean defectors sheltering in the South Korean embassy compound and 23 others under the protection of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Beijing, according to Yonhap.
"The North Korean defectors are expected to leave China in January or February in a rush for South Korea and the United States," Yonhap said.
Despite its rare permission for the North Koreans to seek asylum, Beijing plans to beef up its crackdown on illegal North Koreans ahead of the Olympics, Yonhap said.
More frequent identification checks on the streets in Beijing and strengthened controls on the border with North Korea were expected, it added.
Rights groups estimate that tens of thousands, or possibly hundreds of thousands, of North Koreans have fled to neighboring northeast China and are hiding out there.


Updated : 2021-03-05 18:30 GMT+08:00